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Groups in three states join forces against pipeline

Opponents of the Kinder-Morgan gas pipeline project are getting organized.

Residents of three states and more than 24 organizations have joined forces as StopNED to fight the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) proposal, which would bring natural gas from the shale formations of Pennsylvania into New England through a new pipeline that would traverse New York, Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.

StopNED has been active in Massachusetts for the past year. In October, the group joined Stop the Pipeline Coordinating Committee (SPCC) of Groton, Mass., in announcing a Bay State petition campaign for public hearings on the Kinder Morgan proposal.

At a Jan. 17 meeting in Greenfield, Mass., those two groups and many others involved in pipeline opposition agreed to form a coalition under the StopNED umbrella.

“Will opponents now speak with one voice? I wouldn’t go that far,” said Rich Cowan of the Dracut Pipeline Awareness Group, who attended the Greenfield meeting. “But everyone is working together. In any coalition, there is a coalescing of views.”

For much of 2014, the opposition was concentrated in New York state and northern Massachusetts, where most of the route was proposed. Late last year, Kinder-Morgan re-routed the project through southern New Hampshire, citing the availability of existing pathways for power lines.

“Kinder Morgan moved a significant portion of the route into New Hampshire adjacent to an existing transmission corridor claiming it would minimize impacts when, in reality, it will still require the acquisition of an additional 100-foot-wide right of way, directly affecting hundreds of homeowners in 17 towns,” said Doug Whitbeck of Mason, one of the New Hampshire organizers.

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Mason is not only on the new pipeline path, but potentially the location of a large compressor station.

More than half the NED pipeline would cross New York from the Pennsylvania border, moving from a large compressor station in eastern New York, to the Massachusetts border, then north into New Hampshire at western Cheshire County, crossing the southern part of the state, and re-entering Massachusetts at Dracut.

“We are thrilled to combine our efforts with those of the pipeline opposition in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,” said organizer Bob Connors of Canaan, N.Y. “So many of our issues are the same across the region with this interstate project that it makes perfect sense to form a regional collaborative.”

In addition to working with affected property owners and towns, organizers of the StopNED Coalition said they will focus on the broader environmental and economic impacts of the pipeline.

“Kinder Morgan is committed to public safety, protection of the environment, and operation of its facilities in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations,” said company spokesman Richard Wheatley.

He said there will be multiple opportunities for the hearings that are being requested.

“Public participation and input is an important component of this project, and encouraged by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” he said. “The public will have multiple opportunities to provide input to regulators, such as FERC, and other federal and state agencies during the course of permitting for the project.”

In addition, the pipeline builder plans multiple open houses along the proposed route to explain the project and get input from local residents.

February open houses in New Hampshire are scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at the following locations:

–Feb. 3 in Rindge at Four Star Catering, 18 Lisa Drive,

–Feb. 4 in Winchester at the Town Hall, 1 Richmond Road,

–Feb. 18 in Londonderry at the high school cafeteria, 295 Mammoth Road,

–Feb. 19 in Hudson at the White Birch Banquet Hall, 222 Central St.

–Feb. 24 in Milford at the Hampshire Dome, 50 Emerson Road.

 

This article was written by Dave Solomon from The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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